A GLANCE AT THE WORKS OF ROBERT CHARLES WILSON 
(plus autobiographical tidbits and shameless self-promotion), by the author.

Click here for Robert's MiC page.


A Hidden Place (Bantam, 1986)
First edition images - Front cover - Back cover- Full Cover 

A Hidden Place - first edition cover  (Bantam 1986)A Hidden Place - reprint cover - Orbit 1990A Hidden Place- reprint cover - Bantam Spectra 1989 (artist - Jean-FranÁois Podevin)My first novel. Well-received when it was first published (it was a Philip K. Dick Award finalist) and soon to be reprinted by Tor. I havenít re-read this for some years, but I remember writing it under the influence of Carson McCullers and Jungian psychology. I had published only a couple of stories when Shawna McCarthy, then editor at Bantam Books, asked me whether I had a novel she could look at. A Hidden Place was it, and I approached it with the young writerís predictable excess of ambition and dearth of experience. Nevertheless, I think itís a likeable book, and it probably set the tone for much of my later work with its underlying melancholy and moodiness.

From the reviews: 

"Toronto author Robert Wilsonís A Hidden Place is an astonishing debut. Set in the American Depression, it is first and foremost a novel of character -- of Travis Fisherís coming of age when he is transplanted to the Midwest; of his girlfriend Nancy Wilcox, trapped in a small town with its small town bigotries; of Travisís uncle, a strong man forced to accept his limitations; and most of all the strange hobo, Bone, and the mysterious boarder that Travisís uncle has taken in.... Whether dealing with such dramas, or the quiet moments between Travis and Nancy, Wilson proves his remarkable talent on every page. Recommended." (Charles de Lint, The Ottawa Citizen)

"The air of resignation and the bittersweet feeling of longing Wilson creates are so strong that at times they tend to overwhelm the story. Despite [this], A Hidden Place is an impressive first novel, and Wilson is clearly a writer to watch." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"A Hidden Place will please you, and Wilson has a good deal to say to us all -- letís hope for more of it." (Locus)

top


Memory Wire (Bantam, 1987) 
First edition images - Front Cover - Back Cover - Full cover

Memory Wire first edition cover - Bantam 1987 (Click to Enlarge)Memory Wire - reprint cover - Bantam Spectra 1990A second novel, suffering perhaps from an attempt not to write "another Hidden Place". This is as close as I ever came to the "cyberpunk" genre, and some of the hamfistedness of it still distresses me. (I remember using the word "eponymous" in the book, then seeing it in print and thinking, My God, thereís no excuse for that!) I also coined the word "oneirolith," or dreamstone...the first of my "lith" motifs.

I still occasionally run into people who tell me this is their favorite of my works.

From the reviews:

"Memory Wire is a profound and beautiful work of art.... Read this book for sheer entertainment, and youíll be delighted. You will also, perhaps without realizing it, be changed." (The very kind Orson Scott Card, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)

top


Gypsies (Doubleday, 1989) - 
First edition images - Front Cover - Full cover - Front Flap - Back Flap

Gypsies first edition cover - Doubleday 1989 (click to enlarge)Gypsies reprint cover - Bantam Spectra 1989 - (click to enlarge)Alternate worlds, and a family gifted with the ability to travel between them. Published in a hardcover edition that made it look like a juvenile novel, which it ainít. The religious dictatorship of the Novus Ordo anticipates the Valentinian America of Mysterium.

From the reviews:

"A blend of science fiction, mystery, and thriller. Spellbinding." (Publisherís Weekly)

"A distinctive, beautifully turned alternate worlds yarn." (Kirkus)

top


The Divide (Doubleday, 1990) - 
First edition images - Front Cover - Full Cover - Front Flap - Back Flap

The Divide first edition cover - Doubleday 1990 (click to enlarge)The first of my books to be set in Canada -- Toronto and the West Coast, specifically. I felt I owed it to the National Gestalt (not that anyone noticed).

A skinny little book, caught in personnel changes at Bantam/Doubleday and barely published. It never had a mass-market edition, and only a minuscule hardcover print run. Admittedly, not a "big idea" novel. Nevertheless:

From the reviews:

"Wilson perceptively imagines a biological monstrosity: John Shaw, an ordinary human with a souped-up intellect courtesy of hush-hush CIA experiments with intrauterine hormone injections. As Johnís hypertrophic cortical tissue succumbs to its faulty genetic structure and begins to die, his personality yields to an alter ego named Benjamin. His condition touches Susan and Amelie, two strangers who share Johnís sense of orphaned isolation and profound betrayal. The women upend their lives to form a fragile family and see John through to the outcome of his unwilling transformation. Wilsonís skills afford credibility and even pathos to his fashionings of John and Benjamin, and of the women who love these sentient, doomed fragments of a being both alien and human. A taut ending fittingly closes this indelible portrait." (Publishers Weekly)

"Out of this rich material, Mr. Wilson has shaped a poignant love triangle (Amelie, Susan and John/Benjamin), a mind-stretching philosophical conundrum (about the nature of intelligence) and a terrifying confrontation between John/Benjamin and Roch.... How Mr. Wilson satisfies the demands of plausibility while contriving a Ďhappy endingí is a secret I wouldnít dream of giving away." (New York Times)

"Certain comparisons are inevitable. Frankenstein, ĎDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,í and ĎFlowers for Algernoní all come immediately to mind. In such illustrious company, Robert Charles Wilson holds his own." (Faren Miller, Locus)

top


A Bridge of Years (Doubleday, 1991) - 
First edition images - Front Cover - Full Cover - Back Cover

A Bridge of Years first edition cover - Doubleday 1991I began this one on a cross-country train trip from Toronto to Vancouver. Woke up one night, looked out the sleeping-car window and saw the Northern Lights reflected in the Alberta snowfields. It seemed like a good omen. In the morning I showed the prologue to my son Paul, then nine years old. "Exciting enough?" I asked him. "Maybe too exciting," he allowed.

Bridge is a time-travel novel, in which Tom Winter discovers that the rural house to which he attempts to retreat was once owned by a sentinel from the future. The previous tenant left some of his stuff behind...microbots, a door to the past, and something disgusting in a shed in the forest....

From the reviews:

"The time traveler of the Prologue and the killer who got past him are not polar opposites of good and evil, any more than time can be judged on strictly moral terms. Through the subtle use of a science fictional device, A Bridge of Years helps us to assess the lengthening strange trips of our own lives. Subtle yes, but thoroughly engrossing. Recalling the best of Clifford Simak, this is a book of quiet affirmation, to hold against despair." (Faren Miller, Locus)

"Wilson transforms a simple time travel novel into a moving reflection on love, despair and the resilience of the human spirit.... The hunt leads back to the present and to an exciting, unexpected climax that proves Wilson is a magician indeed." (Publishers Weekly)

"Logically developed, superbly plotted: altogether a fascinating adventure." (Kirkus)

"At times it feels like a mainstream character study (but a good one); at times it feels like a ghost story, which in a sense it is, though the ghost is quite resurrectable; but what it finally becomes is a love story, not about romance, but about healing, about coming to terms with solitude, about finding your own life instead of trying to act out other peopleís scripts for you.... All the sizzle you could ever hope for is here, and all the class. What drives them both is a storyteller of astonishing compassion and understanding, whose characters matter to us because they are as complicated and contradictory and hungry and frightened as the people we know best -- and because they are also as generous and forgiving and brave as we wish we were, as we try to be, as we hope that, in our best moments, we already are." (Orson Scott Card, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)

top


The Harvest (Bantam, 1992) 
First edition images - Front Cover - Full Cover - Front Flap - Back Flap 

The Harvest - First edition cover - Bantam 1992Written in Nanaimo, a small town on Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia, where I briefly owned a house with my first wife Janet. A troubled time for me, but also a productive one. The room I took as my office looked out on an uphill slope, and I spent most of a year staring at that scrubby mound and writing The Harvest. (For relief Iíd go out and drive around in our beat-up car, sometimes getting lost in the inevitable Pacific fogs.)

The Harvest was my biggest book to date in size and in sales. Both the hardcover and the mass-market edition featured a handsome painting by Pamela Lee. (The British edition was decorated with a psychedelic butterfly and some gratuitous crop circles.)

From the reviews:

"Hereís your dilemma: Sometime during the night, a benevolent alien appears in your dreams and offers you virtual immortality. But thereís a catch. Although your mind would remain distinct and intact, it would leave your body permanently and would join with other human minds for an endless tour of the cosmos. Would you choose centuries of wondrous, cerebral exploration or a finite existence that celebrates the Earth-bound distinctiveness of humanity? Thatís the tantalizing question poised by Robert Charles Wilson in The Harvest, a stunning novel whose seamless blend of mature philosophizng and crisp storytelling is science fiction at its best." (Toronto Star)

"An intelligently conceived, fully realized novel that might be considered a gloss on the beautiful line of Yeats that one of the characters recalls at a key moment: ĎMan is in love and loves what vanishes.í " (New York Times)

"The Harvest is a satisfyingly complex, emotionally engaging novel.... It slowly and surely hooks the reader through the power of its characterizations and the complication of the many encounters among the various figures who inhabit its landscapes. With each new novel, Robert Charles Wilson adds to his reputation as one of the best SF writers of his generation." (Books in Canada)

top


Mysterium (Bantam, 1994 ) 
First edition images - Front cover - Full Cover - Back Cover 

Mysterium - first edition trade paperback cover - Bantam 1994 (click to enlarge)

Mysterium reprint cover - Mysterium - reprint cover- paperback - Bantam 1995 (click to enlarge)

Mysterium was my last novel for Bantam. This one was written in a co-op apartment complex called China Creek in the city of Vancouver. When I wasnít working on the book I rode the skytrain down to the grubby part of town where the second-hand bookshops were, or haunted the beaches around Stanley Park and wrote longhand, nestled into the dunes among the driftwood and the cigarette butts.

A small town is transposed into an alternate America ruled by a Valentinian Gnostic theocracy, which attempts to plunder the townís technological riches while oppressing its "heretical" inhabitants. This one was optioned for a TV movie -- never produced, but John Shirley wrote a very nice script for it.

Mysterium won the Philip K. Dick Award (for best novel originally published in paperback) for its year.

From the reviews:

"The scariest novels often have less to do with monsters and things that go bump in the night than with humans who come after you in the bright light of day. ĎBrave New Worldí and Ď1984,í classics of speculative fiction, are just such works. Robert Charles Wilsonís new dystopian nightmare, Mysterium, is almost as engrossing, developing the idea of being plucked out of a safe everyday existence and being exiled in a world similar to but not quite oneís own." (Chicago Tribune)

"Wilson blends science, religion, philosophy and alternate history into an intelligent, compelling work of fiction." (Publishers Weekly)

top


Darwinia (Tor, 1998) 
TOR 1999 paperback edition Images - Full Cover  - Front Cover - Back Cover

Darwinia first edition cover - Tor 1998Darwinia was written in segments, in Vancouver, Whitehorse (Yukon), and Toronto. A Hugo finalist and a Locus bestseller.

Darwinia was the Aurora Award Winner (Best Long Work, English) for its year.

From the reviews:

"Donít expect fantasy akin to Tolkeinís wizards and ogres. Wilson favours a more realistic other-worldliness, reminiscent of the high adventures of Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle.... As the novel opens in 1912, a mysterious overnight event, know as the Miracle, has replaced Europe with a bizarre continent full of strange and deadly creatures. North America is now the Old World whose scientists are eager to explore the eastern New World theyíve named Darwinia.... Even savvy readers who suspect Earthís transformation was caused by extraterrestrials will be rocked by a twist of breathtakingly cosmic proportions. And as [protagonist Guilford Law] discovers his true role in the galaxyís destiny, he becomes the focal point for a haunting tale of the enduring courage of the human spirit." (The Toronto Star)

"Darwinia actually represents a logical next step in the development of an author whose fascination with alternate timestreams dates back at least to his 1989 novel Gypsies. But Darwinia is his best, most complex, and most rewarding exploration of this topic yet, an unlikely combination of early twentieth-century exploration-adventure, decades-spanning romantic epic, and cosmic mystery." (Gary K. Wolfe, Locus)

"As the action jumps from the teens and Ď20s to 1945, then 1965, we see the panoply of history as a struggle between the wildly unfamiliar and the forces of our own chaotic century, with individuals caught in the middle, their lives at once bizare and familiar, poignantly vivid, eloquently told. Darwinia is a remarkable book, worthy of the highest honors in our field. Donít miss it."

top


Bios (Tor, 1999) 
Tor 2000 Paperback edition images - Full Cover - Front Cover - Back Cover

Bios coverAnother skinny little book. There ought to be a separate publishing category for short books. ("Books That Will Be Ignored on Sight," or something to that effect.)

Itís also a somewhat downbeat book. (When I described it that way to Robert J. Sawyer, he asked me, "Just how downbeat is it?" I said, "Well, I donít know -- how do you feel about the last act of Hamlet?")

Not quite so downbeat, however, in its long-term implications.

When I wrote Bios I was going through a difficult divorce and separation, and maybe it shows. But I dedicated the book to my new wife, Sharry, who taught me that even the wildest rapids eventually yield to gentle water. (Thanks, Sharry.)

From the reviews:

Anyone dismayed by the bookís resolution can check out a short sequel called "The Dryadís Wedding," set 200 years after the events of Bios. It appeared in Star Colonies (Daw) and in David Hartwellís Yearís Best SF 6.

"Wilsonís most tightly constructed pure adventure tale to date." (Locus)

"Another triumph from one of the most amazing authors writing science fiction today." (Rocky Mountain News)

top


The Perseids and Other Stories (Tor, 2000)

The Perseids and other stories coverMy first collection -- Iím not a natural short-story writer. The title story was an Aurora Award winner and a Nebula finalist; "The Inner Inner City" was a WFA finalist; "Divided by Infinity" was a Hugo finalist; and the collection as a whole was a finalist for the 2001 World Fantasy Award.

Many of the stories appeared originally in Don Hutchisonís Northern Frights series of anthologies.

Iím fairly proud of this little book. My favorite piece is "Ulysses Sees the Moon in the Bedroom Window," which I think says much in a small space -- and isnít that the whole idea of short stories?

From the reviews:

"Wilsonís slow-building, many-layered yarns shape characters out of the raw materials of loneliness and intellectual isolation. Readers in search of thoughtful, resonant writing will enjoy this collection of urban fantasies." (Publishers Weekly)

"Magisterial tales, all.... In a year abounding in good story collection, The Perseids is yet another strong vindication of the short form. With nine devastating epiphanies in 224 pages, it outscores countless books far longer....

"Besides its sensitive and moving depiction of a diverse array of characters, one of this bookís most appealing qualities is its loving evocation of Toronto. In Wilsonís hands the city acquires a mysterious aura that invites exploration. In stark contrast to the car-heavy environment of the concrete-and-asphalt Toronto, the Toronto of The Perseids and Other Stories becomes a tactile ecology. (Claude Lalumiere, January Magazine)

The Perseids and Other Stories was a New York Times Notable Book.

top


The Chronoliths (Tor, 2001) - Sample Chapter
First edition images - Front Cover - Full Cover - Front Flap - Back Flap - Back Cover

The Chronoliths first edition cover - Tor 2001A personal favorite of mine, and it seems to be selling briskly. My first first-person novel. Time travel as a feedback loop. A New York Time Notable Book, a Hugo finalist, and winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. 

There's something intoxicating about writing in the first person. Confessing to other people's sins. Like walking down the street naked, but in someone else's body. I was also pleased with the revisionist take on time travel and temporal paradox.

From the reviews:

"Wilson's tenth and best.... It is a major novel." (Jonathan Strahan, Locus)

"Wilson deftly interweaves a plausible time-travel thriller with the tender tale of a likable but immature loser who responds to adversity by growing up.... Stands with his best." (Gerald Jonas, New York Times)

"The resolution is exciting, thought-provoking, and ingenious. Wilson is unquestionably one of the most interesting and entertaining SF writers working today." (Don D'Ammassa, SF Chronicle)

"Wilson creates an appealing cast of slackers, drug dealers, addicts, absent-minded geniuses, and cult followers, all endowed with real human consciences, making their predicament all the more shocking when evil shows up in their midst.... At its heart, The Chronoliths is a compelling exploration of imperfect people trying to do the right thing." (Nalo Hopkinson, Quill & Quire)

top


Blind Lake (Tor, 2003)

Blind Lake reached bookstore shelves in August 2003. Looks good, too, with a cover by Jim Burns featuring "the Subject" Ė the extraterrestrial individual under study at the Blind Lake National Laboratory. Alas, no Jim Burns depiction of the Blind Lake site itself or of the main characters Ė I canít help wondering how he would have imagined Tessa Ė but the Art Department ainít my department, and Iím not complaining. Blind Lake was a 2004 Hugo Award finalist and won the 2004 Prix Aurora award for Best Long-Form Work in English. It also was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2003.

Reviews so far have been overwhelmingly positive. Starred reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly; Kirkus called it "fizzing with ideas while tightly focused on the characters: intense, absorbing, memorable work." Gary K. Wolfe at Locus described the book as "a fine novel embedded in a Big Question" but felt some of the characters were "subsumed in the ontological discourse." (Hey, I like my ontological discourse -- itís brightly colored and has lots of moving parts!) The Rocky Mountain News said, "Amid romance, murder, and insanity, the author brings everything together in a surprising conclusion. Blind Lake is a fascinating tale, masterfully told." 

 

Plot summaries available at Amazon.com and elsewhere Ė but how much do you really ever learn about a book from a plot summary? I think of it as a book about storytelling and mirrors.

top


Spin (Tor, March 2005)

SPIN has been wonderfully well-received.  It was one of those "out on a limb" books during the writing -- the kind where you ask yourself, "Can I get away with this?"  But they don't pay you for timidity, I guess.  Every time I've stuck my neck out, in the literary sense, I've been rewarded for it.  

 

 

 

top


Julian: A Christmas Story (PS Publishing, Dec 2006)

Cover Art  Link to Rob's comments on his website

 

 

 

top


Axis (Tor, Sept 2007)

Cover Art Link to Rob's comments on his website

 

 

 

 

top

 


 

What comes next?

Rob is currently working on the novel Julian Comstock: A Story of the 22nd Century which is a continuation of his Hugo Award-Winning novella Julian: A Christmas Story

He will then be writing  Vortex, which is the third and final volume of the Spin trilogy.

top

Click here for Robert's Home page.
Contact Robert at mcwilson@interlog.com


MIC logo

Home | Actors | Authors | Media | Filmmakers
Resources | Masterlist | Newsletter